In a comment to last night's blog, Boris reminded me of something I should have been telling everyone about ever since they announced the UK Memory Championship - book a room in a student hall of residence! I'm going to book mine this weekend, if I get round to it, and I'll post helpful links then if anyone's interested. Student accommodation is available to the public in the summer holidays, at much cheaper rates than real hotels, and I have many happy memories of staying in halls during the MSO. They usually offer a full English breakfast and everything, and some of them even have en-suite bathrooms nowadays (students are so pampered today, that's probably why they're all so stupid...)
Indeed, the first mental journey I ever created (and I still use it today, ten years later!) was the route from a hall of residence to Alexandra Palace, where the MSO 2000 was held. It's a pretty unprofessional kind of journey, with some locations right next to each other and some absolutely miles apart, but it's become so stylised and altered in my head over these ten years of constant use that it's now nice and evenly spaced and bears no resemblance to the actual places it's based on.
The trouble is, I can't remember which hall of residence it was. I know it was down the road and round the corner from a tube station, but I can't remember which tube station either. If I concentrate, I can picture the real building and roads (as opposed to the completely different-looking ones that appear in the mental journey) quite clearly in my head, but I can't identify where it was. I do remember, though, that there was an old Volkswagen camper van parked on the road with a sign in the window saying it was for sale for £300, and I really wanted it. I didn't know how to drive and I didn't have three hundred pounds (by 2000 I was earning just about enough money to afford a week's holiday in London, unlike previous years when I had to pay for it by not spending money on luxuries like food and rent for a couple of months, but I still didn't have much cash to spare) but I still seriously considered buying it.
Of course, now that I'm a wealthy international celebrity who actually has got £300 to spare, writing this has rekindled my desire for an old Volkswagen camper van. Next one I see, I'm having it. Even though I still don't know how to drive.